Antioxidant: Dangers and Risks

An antioxidant is generally a healthy or rather a safe word is known in the medical and non-medical field. It has a lot of benefits for the body and is popularly known for its fighting capacity for cancer and future cancers to come.

a glass of green smoothie, apples, wooden bowl of kale and broccoli in the background

An antioxidant is generally healthy or rather a safe word is known in the medical and non-medical field. It has a lot of benefits for the body and is popularly known for its fighting capacity for cancer and future cancers to come. Cancer is a dreaded disease all over the world, most of its types are not curable, and if it is, then the hospitalization bills are expensive enough to punch a hole in your money pocket. With this, people opt to turn to antioxidant to shield them from further risks of cancer. Today, the market is laden with antioxidant pills, supplements, and more. The market produced these products to respond to the growing concern of the public about cancer risks and the emergence of it in the future. Articles nowadays are big on the benefits of antioxidants for the body but how about the dangers and risks of these supplements? This article will try to delve into the dark side of antioxidants.

Antioxidants on Oxidation Process

The body has a natural process called “oxidation.” Oxidation is part of the natural process of the aging body. As our body grows old, new cells develop and old cells get damaged. Oxidation makes it possible for old cells to get damaged. The damaging effect of oxidation on the cells gives birth to other cells to flourish, but sometimes, it causes unexpected diseases like cancer or other heart-related diseases. Antioxidants cannot stop the process of oxidation, but it can repair damaged cells in time when they find it. Antioxidants can be found in almost all the food that we eat, but they are primarily abundant in cereals, beans, veggies, fruits, and many more. In addition to that, antioxidants also improve the function of our immunity system. The dilemma is, does antioxidant supplements does the job? Do its abilities compare to the natural antioxidants that our body makes and then the natural food sources have?

Antioxidant vs. Cancer

A study founded in 1980 made groundbreaking results of antioxidant supplements against cancer risks. The study in 1980 had such gravity because it has human subjects to spare for five years and 30,000 in numbers. The study gathered different antioxidant supplements and combined them in various ways to different groups of people. The outcome is quite positive for combinations, beta carotene, vitamin E and selenium. The mortality rates of people who had undergone antioxidant combinations of beta carotene, vitamin E, and selenium are the lowest of all antioxidant supplement combinations.

Lung Cancer

Another breakthrough study founded in 1994 about antioxidant emerged. The popularity of the study heightened to a stellar status because it debunked the landmark study founded in 1980. The study had human subjects too with ages ranging in the middle years with a “constant smoking” attribution. The cancer type focused on the 1994 study is narrowed to lung cancer. The timeline of the subjects immersing themselves in different antioxidant supplements is quite longer than the former study of five years. The subjects are also immersed in a different combination of antioxidant pills. The study yielded a result that debunked the prior study of 1980. According to studies the combination of antioxidant supplements increased the risk of lung cancer in men and emerged as early as 18 months, starting from the time, they immersed themselves for the experiment.

Another study yielded a result, debunking the 1980 study too. The study also focused on a specific cancer type (lung cancer). This time, the study includes people that are the majority at risk of lung cancer. The study is not characterized by combining antioxidant supplements. The study was stopped because at least 17% of the subjects of the study developed lung cancer and has positively died from it. In general, the study can be positively affirmed as a strong study that shows to debunk the 1980 antioxidant study.

The studies made in 1994 and 1996 caused great worry and attention about the effects of antioxidants in the human body especially if they are taken in the form of supplements. Another concern is also growing in terms of the antioxidant power in decreasing the effectivity of certain anticancer drugs. A study in 2008 yielded a result which states that vitamin C and N-acetyl cysteine significantly decrease the power of drugs like Methotrexate to cure cancer.

The last studies mentioned in the preceding paragraph except for the study in 1940, all show the significant possibility antioxidants to trigger the growth of cancer, this last study though by Zachary Schafer shows that antioxidant can also protect cancer cells. The concept of cancer cell protection is quite disconcerting since we all hope to eradicate cancer and not protect it. The study of Zachary Schafer states that antioxidants help eradicate free radicals from damaging cells. Eradicating the free radicals means extending the protection too to the cancer cells which makes it hard for the body to recover from these cancer cells.

Your Takeaway

Antioxidants are good for people that have no risk of cancer and is at the moment, healthy. On the other hand, antioxidants might cause harm and trigger the emergence of cancer if you are positively at risk of cancer or if you have cancer at the moment. Antioxidants are healthy if they are recommended to you by doctors and they are usually recommended when you are healthy and are not at risk of any cancer.

These studies all give us lessons in terms of our consumer decision-making skills. We should try to hold our horses in getting all excited about antioxidant supplements and anti-cancer supplements scouring the market. Remember that these supplements can be FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved but not as safe and effective as legal drugs that are prescribed by doctors. If that is so, what can we do to avoid cancer and the risk of having it legitimately?

Things That You Can Do To Prevent The Risk Of Acquiring Cancer in the Future?

1. Maintain a Good BMI (Body Mass Index) Normal Count

Maintain a normal weight by eating a well-balanced diet and exercising.

2. Build an Organic Type of Diet

Veggies and fruits should fill half of your plat every day. They are rich in certain vitamins and antioxidants. Try to avoid processed foods in your diet.


Antioxidants and cancer risk: the good, the bad, and the unknown By Nyedra W. Booker, PharmD, MPH, and Diana Zuckerman, Ph.D. Updated 2015

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